May 12, 2011

Google Looks To Nevada For Self-Driving Car Test

According to a New York Times report, Google is lobbying for legislation that would make Nevada the first state where self-driving cars could be legally operated on public roads.

The bill is being introduced less than a year after Google acknowledged that it was developing cars that could be safely driven without human intervention.

Google said last year that it had test-driven robotic hybrid vehicles over 140,000 miles on California roads, including Highway 1 between Los Angeles and San Francisco.

Over 1,000 miles had been driven entirely autonomously at that point.

The Times reported that Google confirmed on Tuesday that it has lobbied on behalf of the legislation, though executives declined to say why they want the robotic cars' maiden state to be Nevada. 

The report said Google hired David Goldwater, a lobbyist based in Las Vegas, to promote the two measures, which are expected to come to a vote before the legislature's session ends in June.

Goldwater argued in a testimony before the State Assembly on April 7 that the autonomous technology would be safer than human drivers, according to the Times.

Policy makers and regulators warn that this technology is advancing so quickly that it is in danger of outstripping existing law.

The Times said policy analyst say Nevada is the first state to consider the commercial deployment of a generation of vehicles that may park themselves, perform automatic deliveries or even act as automated taxis on the Las Vegas casino strip.

"In some respects this is a great template and a great model," Ryan Calo, a legal scholar at the Center for Internet and Society at Stanford Law School, told the Times. "It recognizes a need to create a process to test these vehicles and set aside an area of Nevada where testing can take place."


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